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Q: What is Career & Technical Education (CTE)?

A: CTE programs are a sequence of courses that integrate core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge and skills to provide students a pathway to post-secondary education and careers. By applying CTE principles to our Panther Tracks program, students are able to utilize their core academic knowledge and apply it to hands-on learning opportunities while also gaining soft skills and real-world career experience in our Park Rapids Community.

Q: What are Panther Tracks Pathways?

A: Panther Tracks is a post-secondary and career planning pathway program. This approach to learning provides smaller, core-focused groups of students and staff who are motivated to excel in the tracks that have been created. Students will explore a variety of courses, some of which are mandated, but the goal is to provide all students with career exploration and learning opportunities that truly motivate them. In addition, experimental learning opportunities will be made available when possible.

Q: What if I don't know what I want to do after I graduate or don't know which Panther Track to pick?

A: Don't worry, that's ok! The best way to find out is to talk to a track advisor, take your Navigator assessments, and try out some intro Panther Track classes. This way you can answer the big questions, like "what do I like" or better yet, "what do I not like." This is the time to explore and see what Panther Track Career Field feels right to you. Once you know your Career Field, you can dive deeper into a Cluster and eventually, a Pathway.

Q: Can I register for Panther Tracks at any time?

A: It doesn’t matter what grade in high school you are in; you can register for Panther Tracks at any time. Set up a time to meet with an advisor or take an interest assessment to see what Tracks may interest you.

Q: Can I register for more than one Track?

A: Absolutely! Some careers or life goals require multiple skill sets to achieve them. An example of this would be a student who wants to be a cosmetologist who also wants to be a business owner and own a salon. Or a student who wants to be a chef and wants to start a food truck business. The combinations and possibilities are endless.

Q: What if I change my mind on careers? Do I have to stay in the original Track I signed up for?

A: You can always switch to a different track anytime while in high school! As you explore careers and gain real-world experience, you are bound to change your mind on what careers you may want to pursue. The goal for Panther Tracks is to help you navigate these changes and explore what you like or more importantly, what you don’t like, before you spend money after high school on post-secondary options.

Q: Can I take college classes and be registered for Panther Tracks at the same time?

A: Yes, you can! All of our offered college classes are placed in Panther Tracks. A college-level class could also substitute for a high school class. An example of this would be if a Track requires Trigonometry & Statistics and the student wants to take College Trigonometry & Statistics, the college class would automatically take the place of the high school level class in the Track.

Q: Do I have to quit Band, Choir, Drama, or other activities in order to complete a Track?

A: No! There is more than enough room within the number of credits needed to graduate to be in these activities all four years in high school and still complete a Track. These activities are important and make high school fun while also providing a well-rounded educational experience for students.

Q: What if I can’t get into a class or a specific class I need isn’t being offered in time before I graduate?

A: Let’s take a look at your transcript! We will look back on all of the classes you have already taken while in high school and see if any are comparable to what you need. Or we will try to register you for a different class that is comparable to what is missing.

Q: What is the advantage of Panther Tracks?

A: Panther Tracks Pathways give students direction, tools, resources, education, connection, support, and hands-on learning opportunities to help them get to where they want to be after high school. Panther Tracks are broken down into 6 Career Fields, we call these Tracks. Students can dive deeper by following one of the tracks' many Clusters. Students also have the opportunity to follow a Pathway and really tailor their classes and can take classes that offer industry-recognized credentials. At Park Rapids Area High School we built Panther Tracks to be an added benefit to every student's resume, no matter what educational post-secondary pathway they choose or whether they go directly into the workforce, and even into the military. We want Panther Tracks to help students get an advantage when applying for scholarships, colleges, and apprenticeships as well. 

Q: How can parents get involved in their child's Panther Tracks journey?

A: High School class registration begins in the spring of your child's 8th grade school year. At this point, your child has started taking their YouScience Apptitude Assessments and may be trying to decide what intro classes to take in Panther Tracks. Now is the best time to talk to your child to see what interests them, what skills they have or need to work on, and talk about some of their favorite careers. We want parents to be involved in this process because you know your child best. Parents can also work with them on their schedules and see how they are doing in their Panther Track classes through ParentVUE. 

Q: How do I explore careers & gain real-world experience?

A: Try job shadowing multiple career and multiple times. Attend field trips/college tours to explore career and post-secondary programs. Listen to a career speaker in person or virtually. Sign up for a class with a guest instructor and possibly earn a certificate. Apply for internships/apprenticeships. Apply for paid employment or sign up for the business internship program. Try job/work sampling unpaid. Connect with a career mentor to set future goals and learn from them. Work on a business sponsored project when available. Participate in a club/activity that promotes leadership.

Q: Do I have to complete a real-world experience for each Track I sign up for?

A: Yes! But don’t worry, it is so much fun! Job Shadows are a great way to get a real inside look at different career pathways. This gives you a chance to network with career professionals in industries you are interested in, ask them questions, learn from them, and step into a day in the life in that profession. Field trips, apprenticeship program tours, career speakers, etc., are also great ways to get an inside scoop of a career pathway.

Q: What does "Preparing for Life After High School Classes" mean, and do I have to take it?

A: "Preparing for Life After High School Classes" is an umbrella term used to categorize a variety of classes that discuss the future, resumes, soft skills, personal finance, exploration, occupational skills, etc. There are a few different types of “Preparing for Life After High School” classes that can be found under Foundation Knowledge & Skills. You only need to take one "Preparing for Life After High School Classes" Class, no matter how many Tracks you are signed up for.